CLOSE

“Game of Thrones” fans have endured jaw-dropping twists and turns season after season. Apparently, so have the show’s stars.
USA TODAY

Death has many faces. One of them is “Game of Thrones.”

The HBO fantasy series has long been known for shocking viewers with the deaths of major characters, from its de facto protagonist to a pregnant woman to a child. Fans predict (and fear) them as a vital part of the viewing experience.

Which is why, two episodes into a six-episode final season, it feels odd that “Thrones” has yet to kill off any. Instead, many characters have gathered at Winterfell to prepare for the looming assault from the Night King and his Army of the Dead, who, at the end of Sunday’s episode, were at the gates.

Jon Snow appears to be enveloped in the literal fog of war in Sunday’s episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’ (Photo: HBO)

As wonderful as it was to see our favorite characters gather to drink, reminisce and give each other small moments of joy, each sweet scene only made it more obvious that we are about to lose many of them. If God laughs when men make plans, “Thrones” writers cackle and then plot the most violent demise possible. 

Or maybe it was just author George R.R. Martin who laughed? Ever since the series moved past his published source material near the end of Season 5, few major death scenes have been staged, save for the destruction of the Sept of Baelor in Season 6.

“Thrones” has been less provocative and surprising with fatalities. Littlefinger was executed by Arya and Sansa last season in what amounted to nearly comical fan service. The Sand Snakes everybody already hated died unceremoniously in battle, too. But our true favorites have lived on, against the odds. And the story has become less subversive and more ordinary in the process. 

‘Game of Thrones’ recap: The calm before the (undead) storm

There is an intense amount of buildup and anticipation heading into Sunday’s episode, dubbed “The Battle of Winterfell” by fans, to deliver on the climactic clash of Ice and Fire that “Thrones” has promised for years. It also has to deliver the “right” deaths, at the right times and in the right manner. Who lives and who dies will be part of the “Thrones” legacy, for better or worse. 

The final season’s body count will likely go up even after this weekend’s battle. But it’s clearly the beginning of the end. We offer our predictions (and some preferences) about who will live to see the morning. 

CLOSE

As “Game of Thrones” comes to an end, the remaining cast guesses how many characters they’ve said goodbye to over the last seven seasons.
USA TODAY

Who will definitely live?

Jon Snow and Daenerys Targaryen

If “Thrones” hopes to maintain its reputation for breaking the rules, it would kill Jon or Dany. But it won’t. The pair has been on conventional hero journeys for the past few seasons, and will likely live until at least the last episode.The couple also has unfinished business to address after the battle: Jon told Dany he’s Aegon Targaryen in last week’s episode, and she has yet to fully process that news. 

Daenerys Targaryen (Emilia Clarke), left, and Jon Snow (Kit Harington) look at Winterfell from a distance in during Sunday’s battle spectacular. (Photo: HBO)

Arya Stark

Practically speaking, Arya has a good chance of surviving the battle, given her training. If Arya dies in in this battle, it would feel more random than significant. 

Sansa Stark

Like Arya, Sansa’s story feels unfinished, and although she spent the night before the battle with Theon, that isn’t the kind of last night that usually precipitates a death. Her insistence that Dany leave the North independent after the White Walkers are defeated also suggests that she’ll play a bigger role after the battle. 

Bran Stark

Apparently, if he’s gone humanity is doomed, and while the series might end that way, we still have three more episodes left. 

Tyrion Lannister

Something will happen in the Winterfell crypts during this battle. They were mentioned so frequently last week that there might as well be a flashing neon sign that says “danger.” But Tyrion has consistently surprised with his battle skills, and it seems more likely that he’ll help defend the crypts than perish there. (On the flip side, he’s a great candidate for murder who would fundamentally shock the audience, but I’m not betting on it.)

Samwell Tarly

Sam is consummate survivor who has outlasted better warriors.  He also keeps mentioning those books he stole from the Citadel, and he needs to be around to read the important information in them. Also, if all of the show’s moral centers are in danger (Sam, Davos and Brienne), at least one of them needs to survive. 

More: ‘Game of Thrones’ stars pick their favorite death scenes

Who might die?

Jaime Lannister

Many fans have long theorized that Jaime will kill his sister (and lover) Cersei, but his long road to Winterfell and redemption may lead him to make a noble sacrifice in this battle. In terms of narrative arcs, it would feel fine if his ended here. 

Brienne of Tarth 

When Jaime knighted her last week, he might as well have painted a target on her back. Her moment of joy is likely to be followed by her demise. She and Jaime are linked, whether they die together or one of them survives to mourn the other. But it is improbable that both will survive. 

Jaime Lannister (Nikolaj Coster-Waldau), left foreground, and noble Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie) lead the Westerosi forces into battle in Sunday’s episode of ‘Game of Thrones.’ (Photo: HBO)

Davos Seaworth 

At the drinking session in front of the Winterfell hearth, it was helpfully mentioned that Davos has survived both the Blackwater and the Battle of the Bastards, despite his lack of combat skills. Either he survives against the odds once again, or he finally reaches his end.

Theon Greyjoy

Theon might complete his journey of redemption by protecting Bran, the last Stark to whom he needs to make amends. Or he may live to deepen his relationship with Sansa (probably platonically), as last week’s episode suggested. 

The Hound

The Hound has two endings that would fit: Dying for Arya or killing his brother. One is on the table in the upcoming episode. 

Gendry

Gendry was reintroduced last season after a long break from the show, and since then he’s done three helpful things: Capture a wight beyond the Wall, armed the forces at Winterfell and had sex with Arya. His usefulness seems have peaked. 

Lyanna Mormont

The “Thrones” that killed Shireen and Oberyn Martell would definitely kill this fiery, fan-favorite young girl. Jorah’s concerns for her safety seemed to foreshadow doom. 

Who will definitely die?

Jorah Mormont

Jorah’s scenes with Dany, Lyanna and Sam last week all felt final. He’s made peace with his queen and his family, and promised to honor his dead father. If anyone will die so Dany might live, it will be Jorah. 

Beric Dondarrion

We’ve long wondered why the Lord of Light has brought Beric back from the dead so many times. It now appears he was resurrected for this very battle, the first he’ll go into without Thoros of Myr, the red priest who brought him back. Afterward, Beric will have no purpose, and all those extra lives could catch up with him. 

More: Maisie Williams could show ‘as much or as little’ as she wanted in shocking ‘Game of Thrones’ sex scene

Missandei and/or Grey Worm

The Essos natives’ planning for their future after the battle was a huge red flag. Either one or both of them will perish, and there isn’t much narrative juice to leave just one of them at Dany’s side. 

Gilly

Remember all that talk about the crypts? Well, Gilly seems to be in charge of everyone down there, which is not exactly a safe job. Gilly has survived a White Walker attack and the Wildling assault on the Wall, mostly by being lucky, and it seems her luck is now up, especially if Sam survives. Let’s just hope Little Sam makes it. 

Hannah Murray as Gilly and John Bradley as Sam on “Game of Thrones.” (Photo: HBO)

Varys

Melisandre predicted Varys would die in a strange country, and although he’s not from Westeros, King’s Landing had become his home for years. But Winterfell is a strange land, and in a political climate more focused on zombies than schemes, there’s little use for Varys and his “little birds.” 

Autoplay

Show Thumbnails

Show Captions